BRC: UK shoppers increase spending as Brexit fears ease

03 Dec 2019

UK retail UK shoppers hiked their spending in November as Brexit fears took a back seat, according to the results of a survey by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed on Tuesday.

The BRC said total retail spending fell by 4.4% compared with the statistics from November last year which included the Black Friday sales, unlike this year.

Taking into account this Black Friday discrepancy, as well as differences in the time remaining until Christmas of the BRC’s November sales measurement period, the figures looked more positive for retailers.

According to a Reuters report, sales increased 0.9% year-on-year, the largest increase since January. However, this is apart from April when the timing of Easter this year led to a rise in sales.

Consumers in the UK, lifted by increasing wages and modest inflation, have helped economic growth since the Brexit referendum three years ago, countering reductions in investment by a large number of firms.

That said, there have been recent indications that consumers are becoming somewhat more cautious, taking into account the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the upcoming December 12 election.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson commented: “Growth appears stronger in November than in previous months.”

UK consumers were more willing to spend as the no-deal Brexit threat was pushed back from the October 31 deadline until the end of January, Dickinson added.

“If the next government wishes to see retail spending remain healthy in 2020 it is essential they clarify our future relationship with the EU as soon as possible,” said the BRC chief executive.

In terms of like-for-like sales, not taking into account changes in retail space, sales increased 0.4% compared with November last year, when adjusted for Black Friday and the closeness to Christmas.

Another poll carried out by Barclaycard showed a less upbeat scenario in regard to broader consumer spending.

The survey said spending increased by 0.9% in November, slowing down from 1.5% growth in October, with no change in spending on essential goods and a 1.3% rise in non-essential goods.

The Confederation of British Industry said last week that retailers had better-than-expected sales last month and were more positive about December.


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